Last October one of my high school friends, whom I haven’t really seen since those far-off foggy days, suddenly and tragically lost her two-year-old daughter. I stumbled on the news by accident during a rare bout of mindless Facebooking. The whole world melted away as I stared at the computer–and my worst fear. This friend has been on my mind often in these months, as she’s courageously and faithfully faced what people the world over will tell you is the hardest thing a person can endure. Once when I was quite young I overheard my grandmother saying about someone who had lost a child, “That’s the most terrible, terrible thing. Our children are supposed to outlive us.” I didn’t fully understand her; I wasn’t yet a mother.
As I think of my friend it occurs to me that God, when he crafted the human family, designed the parent-child relationship to be what it is. He is the one who gave us this earthly replica of the most tremendous, extravagant love-bond ever known: that of the Father and Jesus, his son. He wanted us to have the terms to comprehend the sacrifice he made. He knows completely and personally how much a mother–or father–suffers from losing a child. He has felt it. And that is how much he loves us. He didn’t only lose his precious son–he gave him up.
But it isn’t the same, argue our minds sometimes. He is God, he knew Jesus would defeat death and rise again. Yes. He knew he would get his son back. He knew he would see his child again and be with him for all eternity. And because of that, so will my friend.